The state government selected three information commissioners who were appointed by the Governor on Friday. The three are retired IPS officer KL Bishnoi, retired IAS officer Sambhaji Sarkunde and former tribal commissioner and journalist Dilip Dharurkar. With the appointments, the government filled up posts of three benches, some of which were vacant for almost two years, killing the very essence of the RTI Act for getting timely information. Retired bureaucrats continued to weigh on the higher side, which has often been a grouse of activists, who state that babus have made it a parking lot for themselves.
Which of the commissioners will be holding which bench will be decided after they are sworn in. "Assigning of the benches will be done on Monday after they are sworn in," said Ratnakar Gaikwad, state chief information commissioner. He added, "I would request them to clear pending appeals fast so as to reach one month pendency as early as possible. Nagpur can do it soon, but Amravati and Nashik will take at least two years or so."
The appointment of the commissioners was both welcomed and slammed by RTI activists. "It is a good thing that the government has appointed three commissioners. Wish it had appointed two more to clear the huge backlogs. Two out of three are retired government officers. Wish it appoints atleast two RTI activists soon," said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner welcoming the verdict. The state information commission has already resolved that all ten posts provided in the Act should be created, said Gaikwad.
While Gandhi hoped that RTI activists also make it, some RTI activists slammed the government for not having as much transparency in selecting and appointing of information commissioners. "Since the beginning there was no transparency in appointment of information commissioners. With this chief minister we thought we will get transparency. They should have had a search committee and put up advertisements before appointing the commissioners. How is it that only these managed to make it to the post? These appointments have been done by deciding among them. Any government comes, this business of appointing (people known) does not stop. In the present case while there are allegations against some, the other is not even heard of," said Vijay Kumbhar a noted RTI activist from Pune.
"Everything is done strictly in accordance with the rules and procedure. Few people have a habit of finding faults with everything so can't help them. Govt can't decide on the basis of likes or dislikes of someone. Moreover, some people think that people of eminence live only in metro cities or on page three which is not true. But we take this as constructive criticism and will see whether the process really needs any change," Devendra Fadnavis told DNA.